Types of Cancer Treatments
For many types of cancers, surgery is an essential component of the treatment plan. Surgery can also be performed to obtain biopsies, complete sentinel node mapping, or create permanent and semi-permanent intravenous or IV lines for utilization during chemotherapy and treatment.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy begins to work after becoming available in your blood stream (either after taking a pill, receiving a shot or an infusion) where it is able to travel to the location within the body where the cancer cells are. Chemotherapy is often used to cure cancer but can also be used to slow the growth of cancer cells or to keep the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. When a cancer has been removed by surgery, chemotherapy may also be given to keep the cancer from coming back (adjuvant therapy). Chemotherapy can also be used to ease the symptoms of cancer, allowing many people to enjoy a greater quality of life.
Hormones are chemicals produced by glands, such as the ovaries and testicles. Hormones help some types of cancer cells to grow, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. In other cases, hormones can kill cancer cells, make cancer cells grow more slowly or stop them from growing altogether. Hormone therapy as a cancer treatment may involve taking medications that interfere with the activity of the hormone or stop the production of the hormones.
Biotherapy agents are drugs used to boost or restore the ability of the immune system to fight cancer, infections and other diseases. They can also be used to lessen certain side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments. Many agents considered biotherapy drugs, are also considered targeted agents. This means that they were created to target very specific sites on the tumor cells, rather than working throughout the entire body.
Radiation therapy, a commonly prescribed form of cancer treatment, is the utilization of energy to damage genetic material within cancer cells making it impossible for them to replicate. This process can be harnessed to cure, stop or slow the growth of cancer cells or palliatively to reduce cancer symptoms such as pain. Radiation therapy can be utilized to treat nearly every type of solid tumor and has also been used to treat hematological malignancies like leukemia and lymphoma. Radiation therapy can be delivered by external, internal or systemic routes. External beam radiation, the most common treatment form, is utilized as a local treatment and delivered by machine. Internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, is accomplished by placing a solid radioactive source within the body. Systemic radiation therapy, on the other hand, is the use of unsealed radioactive materials that may travel throughout the body.
To learn specific information regarding your cancer type, treatment plan, or surgery, please follow this link to the Health Education Center and utilize the search functions to locate more information.